Tag Archives: Performing arts

Comedy Night @ The Anson Rooms (UBU)

One of the first Fresher’s events this year was a comedy night with Carly Smallman, The Noise Next Door, and Mat Ewins as compere. Seeing as I hadn’t managed to get to any of their shows in Edinburgh I jumped at the chance to see them for free in the new and improved Student Union venue.

As an MC Mat Ewins does a decent job of getting to know the crowd and embarrassing enough people to get everyone in the mood for audience participation. His actual stand up got a mixed response but generally went down well – indeed one of our favourite palindrome based jokes was his!

Carly-Smallman

Carly Smallman was great – a lovely mixture of stand up and musical comedy that she tried to relate well to the student audience, despite its more adult nature. Two of her songs were absolutely perfect. Firstly “Love song to myself” which was just lovely, and I think everyone should write their own. “I’m in love with my brother” wasn’t a complete hit with the audience, I think it was a little too twisted for some sensitive freshers, but my friend and I found it completely hilarious! 

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The Noise Next Door are extremely good at what they do – improvised musical and sketch comedy – plus are absolutely lovely guys! With lots of audience participation I was nervous the sets might not work with a load of freshers but everyone got in the spirit and we came up with some hilarious scenarios for them to act/ sing out. I think I prefer the acting improv that they do, purely because it seems less set up than the songs, which while equally impressive have a very obvious structure. What I really love about the Noise Next Door is that they put absolutely everything into each scene – they aren’t afraid of any accent or scenario thrown out, they are great even when corpsing, and their dance moves are fantastically over the top.

Overall I think UBU organised a great freshers event, that for once wasn’t based around drinking!

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Justitia @ Sadler’s Wells Peacock Theatre

I was lucky enough to be able to go to the press showing of ‘Justitia’* – the new production by the Jasmin Vardimon Company. Billed as a dance piece, I would say Justitia was more of a movement heavy physical theatre piece – there was a very strong crime story line running through the piece that you don’t often see in modern dance.

The concept of the show was really interesting – exploring the justice system, the audience were asked to be the jury in a murder trial, and were ‘played’ the various scenarios that may have lead to the crime. Being physical dance theatre, this was a hugely evocative and powerful way to explore such themes as rape, crimes of passion, marriage and abortion. There was also a sub-theme running through the whole piece about the power of words. During various scenes the court stenographer’s notes were projected onto a screen, questioning whether something happened because she wrote it or vice-versa. It is safe to say the whole piece had a truly harrowing edge to it.

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The set was phenomenal – there were 3 sections on a rotating platform, a living room, a dining room and one representing the court and a therapy room with chairs stacked into the wall. The space was incredibly well used, with doors allowing seamless movement between sections. Similarly the music was fabulously chosen –  a mixture of well known songs (such as Bridge over Troubled Water) and beautiful electronic music. And the Pac-Man theme song with a dubstep backtrack. That was very cool.

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In terms of the choreography there is very little I can fault. Each character had their own movements, and there were various motifs running through the piece that tied everything together. There was a perfect balance between straight dance sequences, more symbolic sections and proper physical theatre that allowed the story to be told without the audience every forgetting that these are dancers, not actors. My favourite character was the court stenographer. She had a very animalistic feel to her movements – everything was very low and smooth. The murder victim also had a very interesting movement style, which seemed to be based on a 70s sleaze-ball/ breakdancer which made for an hilarious combination. All the dancers were fantastic – it sounds silly but they were just SO physical; jumping, leaping and falling to the floor with incredible ease and lacking any fear.

justitia

What was lovely about this piece, other than the sheer beauty of it, was that the entire company has just moved to Ashford in Kent, where the performance was created. The council has effectively given the company a disused sports centre where they plan to create a dance school and permanent rehearsal space for the company. Listening to everyone talk with such enthusiasm about this project was really inspiring and the work they are planning to put into the area and the community really shows how valuable creative spaces are. I was lucky enough to meet Jasmin, who is a wonderfully gracious and lovely lady, and I really wish them all the best!

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*Justitia was playing just for the week at the Peacock Theatre, but do look out for more performances from this very exciting dance company.

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